There may not be a Georgia player who will shake commissioner Roger Goodell’s hand or give him a hug Thursday night at Radio City Music Hall, but by the time the three-day NFL draft wraps up Saturday, there is expected to be no shortage of Bulldogs selected.
“We’ve got a lot of studs, man,” defensive end/outside linebacker Cornelius Washington said. “Got a lot of good guys on this team, a lot of good coaches, too, that kind of paved the way for us to do well.”
It goes beyond linebackers Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree, who won’t be in New York for the draft but could be first-round picks. Jones actually was in New York Tuesday to make appearances for Subway.
Shawn Williams and Bacarri Rambo are part of what’s considered a deep safety class, but there’s a chance that cornerback Sanders Commings could be taken before them.
“He is a physical guy, he presses well,” former Washington Redskins general manager Charley Casserly of NFL Network told NFL.com. “I think this guy has a lot of talent and in a draft that has about 20 second-round cornerback-safeties this is the guy who is getting missed.”
Russ Lande of National Football Post at one point had Commings at No. 30 to the Falcons in his mock draft, but now has the Falcons taking Boise State’s Jamar Taylor. Commings, from Augusta, is his No. 5-rated cornerback.
“Commings has not received much hype in the media, but NFL sources tell us he is definitely a special talent with the tools to be a shut-down corner with good, hard coaching,” Lande wrote about Commings, who started 35 games at Georgia with eight intereptions.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper and the NFL Network’s Mike Mayock both view the 6-foot, 216-pound Commings as more of a fourth- or fifth-round pick.
“Sanders Commings is interesting because I think he fits what today’s NFL is becoming. More and more teams are looking for tall corners,” Mayock said. “He’s over six feet tall, big-bodied guy, a little stiff. But most big corners are stiff. I think on tape he’s an average player, but I think he’s got the skill set that the NFL is looking for. … I think a team that likes big corners — Seattle, Jacksonville, Philly — somebody like that will pull the trigger on him and expect him to be not only a special teams player, but down the line compete for a job.”
The 6-foot, 215-pound Williams is viewed by Kiper as a “solid, reliable safety” who could go in the late second or early third round and the 6-0, 209-pound Rambo as a third- or fourth-round pick.
“The safeties, I think it’s a great group of guys,” Baltimore Ravens assistaant general manager Eric DeCosta told reporters. “Obviously, Kenny Vaccaro from Texas is a fine player, senior prospect, outstanding, probably a first-rounder. I think you have guys in the second round: Matt Elam from Florida, [Jonathan] Cyprien from Florida International, [D.J.] Swearinger from South Carolina. You have [J.J.] Wilcox from Georgia Southern, Rambo from Georgia, Shawn Williams from Georgia. There are a lot of guys this year.
Year after year, Georgia churns out NFL draft picks, but for all that talent, a trip to the BCS national title game still hasn’t happened, even though the Bulldogs came close to beating Alabama in the SEC championship game.
“If you’re a Georgia fan, I’m assuming there’s probably a little bit of frustration with all these players from Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones and maybe John Jenkins in the first round; Bacarri Rambo and Shawn Williams at safety, Cornelius Washington defensive end, Sanders Commings at corner-free safety, Kwame Geathers, Abry Jones, I mean the list goes on and on with these guys,” ESPN analyst Todd McShay said. “It’s remarkable how much talent. I get it. But I also think you have to keep perspective how close they were to playing for the national championship and a game they in all likelihood would have been able to win. It was just that close, and they almost got started a quarter of the way into the year because of all the suspensions. Which, you can blame on the coaching staff, or the lack of discipline, wherever you want to put it. But I don’t think you can lose sight of how close this team was.”
Georgia’s draft total by the end of the weekend just might reach double digits.
“It’s great. When you send guys to the league, it’s important,” coach Mark Richt said. “We do it about as good as anybody. We might not have the most, but we’ll probably be in the top five or 10 schools or something as far as draftees. …It’s important to these guys that dream of playing in the NFL. They want to know if they come to Georgia that they’ll have an opportunity to do that.”